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Maple Syrup a Taste of Nature
North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual
Maple LinksCornell Sugar Maple Research & Extension Program
Mushroom LinksFungi Perfecti
North American Mycological Association
Only maple trees found in North America, have suitable sugar content to create maple syrup. The warm days and cool nights in late February and early March stimulates the sap to flow in the trees. Early settlers learned from native Americans that sap from these trees could be processed into syrup. Maple syrup has been used as a sweetener on and in foods for generations.
Making maple syrup involves tapping trees, collecting the sap, and processing it into syrup by evaporating off the water. Large trees (over 10 inches in diameter) with large, well- formed crowns may be tapped to harvest the sap. Either buckets or plastic tubing can be used to collect the sap. Processing involves boiling the sap in an evaporator to boil off water and concentrate the sap into syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup.
Most of the syrup produced is made in northern New England and Canada by tapping sugar maple trees. Although sugar maple is uncommon in Rhode Island?s forests, red maple can also be used. Norway maple (an imported species) is also used since many planted in the past as ornamentals are now large and accessible for tapping. The sugar content of red and Norway maple sap is lower and the tapping season shorter than sugar maple.
Mushrooms are formed by fungi that live on decaying organic matter. The cool, moist conditions in the forest are ideal for the fungi to grow and produce fruit, forming mushrooms. All mushrooms grow on decaying organic matter, but some types only grow under a forest canopy in close association with tree roots.
Collecting wild mushrooms is a traditional family activity in many cultures. The most common wild gathered mushrooms in Rhode Island are varieties known as honey mushrooms and chicken of the woods. The most important steps when gathering wild mushrooms are to either go with someone who is experienced in identifying mushrooms, and/or consult reliable publications.
Some varieties of mushrooms, like shiitake and oyster, can be cultivated. Basic steps for growing these mushrooms include obtaining spawn, preparing the logs, introducing the spawn to the logs, and keeping the logs cool and moist until the fungi colonize the log to form mushrooms.